Triple Threat
Covering LA Sports' Big Three: Lakers, Dodgers and Kings

Howard's Free Throws, Lakers Effort to Blame for Loss to Magic

The Orlando Magic hung around late enough and took advantage of the Lakers at the right time to pull off a notable upset on Sunday night.

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What is Superman’s weakness? Free throws. 

Dwight Howard was publicly embarrassed by the Orlando Magic, his former team, as the Lakers, again, lost against a lesser opponent and dropped below .500 on the season. The Magic knew Superman’s weakness and used the hack-a-Dwight strategy in the third and fourth quarters. 

Howard wound up shooting 9-for-21 from the line on the night, but the Magic’s strategy made it impossible for the Lakers to play D’Antoni-offense for the most meaningful portion of the game. To compound the problem, the Lakers’ defense was porous on the inside and outside down the stretch, leading to an ugly loss to a team that only had one road win entering Sunday.

Mike D’Antoni said he would not entertain the idea of pulling Howard out of the game because teams would start to foul Howard with hopes of getting him off the floor. Translation: get ready to see a ton of free throws this season, Lakers fans. 

As easy as it would be to blame Howard for this loss, the Lakers lost this game in the first three quarters by lacking the energy required to put the Magic away.

“I don’t think (Dwight’s free throws are) our problem,” D’Antoni said after he game. “Our problem is just not coming out with the intensity and the purpose that we need to have.” 

That lacking intensity was visible in the fourth quarter when the Lakers allowed 40 points. Seven of those points came via home-town kid Arron Afflalo, who continued his trend of playing big against the Lakers in Los Angeles. 

Afflalo scored a season-high 30 points on Sunday night. He has only failed to reach double digits in scoring in one of his last 10 games against the Lakers in Los Angeles. He has only put up double digits twice in eight tries against the Lakers away from LA. Hometown cooking must be the recipe for the former UCLA Bruin.

On Sunday night, the Lakers proved that they are not an especially good home team. Considering they only have one away win on the season, the Lakers have yet to prove they are anything better than the below .500 team their record says they are. 

Next, the Lake Show hits the road for a three-game series. They’ll have to right this sinking ship away from home because nine of the next 12 Laker games are not at Staples Center. Perhaps Steve Nash will offer the necessary spark. However, if this team doesn’t plug its defensive holes, this season may be sunk before the 38-year-old point guard even has a chance to captain the ship.

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